If you’re an Arrested Development fan like me, you are probably giddy for the 2013 return of never-nudes, frozen bananas, Maebe and Shirley, Lucilles one and two, the Seaward, Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog and everything Bluth. In an effort to promote Arrested Development season four and the feature movie, Netflix and Twentieth Century Fox are running a contest “You’re Gonna Get Some Walk-Ons” offering six fans an opportunity to walk-on to the television program.
Fans are asked to create an original piece of content and to share it on one of many social networks, tagging the content #BluthWalkOn. It’s a pretty ingenious social campaign for a couple of reasons.
Social media marketing needs scale
One of the most common and misleading assertions that people make about social media is that smaller businesses can benchmark their efforts against bigger businesses. On Facebook where less than 20% of people see any given post and less than 1% engage it, the necessity of a large social audience is crucial to continued success. You are not Coca-Cola and probably will never have the budget or audience to be them.
This bears out for our site in how LW posts are shared. If someone like Ann Tran, Jeff Bullas or Ted Rubin is generous enough to share a post traffic shoots through the roof. But these folks have huge, engaged audiences and are very selective about the posts that they share. Co-opting huge, engaged audiences isn’t a reliable long-term strategy (unless you’re advertising, which is a different story).
The bulk of my audience is consistently gained through co-opting the smaller networks of others, primarily through Triberr. That’s the purpose behind Klout, it’s the theory behind measuring “engagement” and quantifying “influence”: co-opting small media channels to promote your message. And this is the genius of the #BluthWalkOn campaign.
Arrested Development is a cult classic (cult is code for small)
If you haven’t heard of Arrested Development or paid it any attention, it was one of the funniest shows ever on TV. The meta humor and barrage of jokes and characters were precursor to more successful shows like “Modern Family” and “Whitney” (okay, I’m joking about Whitney). But, AD has a problem that many of us face: how to get the word out to many people without the benefit of a huge network. It’s considered a “cult classic” – which means that it’s beloved by some and unknown by many,
If you take a look at the traffic to the “You’re Gonna Get Some Walk-ons” site, it’s pretty modest. But every new piece of content is tagged with the campaign tag and shared with the creator’s social audience. Much of the content is so good that it is shared by others. It’s a perfectly designed system to out fans, inform their affinity networks and to increase awareness of the new programming. It costs Netflix next to nothing and extends awareness of the program tens if not hundreds of times more than static content on a website.
If you want to co-opt an audience, offer them something valuable (like an Arrested Development walk-on)
A lot of people argue that a best practice for getting people to sign up for a newsletter or site updates is to offer something free. I disagree. For every Hubspot, SEOMoz and Mike Stelzner there are a glut of sites offering “premium” content that is far from premium and of negligible value. For every gem like the Mononews white paper on opportunities for American companies in Canada (available when you subscribe to the site), there are hundreds of contrary examples of poorly written and poorly conceived content given away as an enticement. They are the Gene Parmeseans of content: giving people exactly what they don’t need. (Say goodbye to these, because it’s the last time you’re going to see them)
The beauty of Arrested Development is that they understand what they have to leverage. For a fan, the opportunity to be involved with the production of AD is far greater than some tchotchke or other enticement. These fans have the opportunity to be a part of something they love…. so much so that many of them have gone all out to develop content for the site. The creativity is really impressive.
It’s a pretty phenomenal example that anyone can emulate, so long as you understand what you’ve got that people want.